Rise of the Tigers

by Adel Ahmed

new age

new age

Cricket is not just a mere sport, its poetry in motion. It’s elegant, dynamic, stylish and always full of twists and turns that will leave the spectators bewildered and at other times, thoroughly exhilarated. Cricket unites us and brings us together as we cheer with one voice and one heart while our Tigers battle in the arena and establish their supremacy.
The journey has been long and arduous but the tigers have finally risen. The Bangladesh Cricket Team always had the potential and there was never any dearth of talent or spirit. Over the years there were even flashes of brilliance when we vanquished goliaths, but there was also a sad lack of consistency.  However everything was about to change and a new paradigm shift was forming in the horizon.
In the world cup of 2015, something magical and extraordinary happened. The boys went to battle and in the crucible of war, gladiators were forged. The tigers no longer cracked under pressure, but welcomed the challenge and triumphed against adversities with grace and dignity. The team played as one cohesive unit, like any other world class squad and were brilliant all throughout their performance. Batting, bowling and fielding were spot on and for the first time we saw a team that had the belief in itself and in its abilities. More importantly, we saw a team that had the depth and character to be consistent and the hunger to win.
In this world cup, everything clicked into place and the team finally started believing when they achieved their highest successful run chase in an ODI by beating Scotland’s impossible 318 runs.  We then saw the Tigers go toe to toe with the Lions and throw them out of the tournament. The match against England was very close and it could have been anyone’s game but the team never lost its focus or its convictions. They set a very descent total and then they defended the total, with grit and determination, clinching the match.
The match against New Zealand was a very exciting and a close match as well. Our boys lost the game but they won a moral victory and signalled to the rest of the world that Bangladesh had finally arrived.
Despite some upsets and few controversies the experience in the world cup was a very positive one for the team. It boosted their morale and gave them the confidence to believe in themselves, that they can.
In this world cup, the team reached the quarter final and today every Bangaldeshi truly believe that one day very soon, we will win the world cup and that dream doesn’t seem too farfetched anymore.
The confidence and prowess in cricket shone through as the Tigers won the ODI series against Pakistan during the past week.
As I said, this metamorphosis didn’t happen overnight, it has been a long process of trial and error and the relentless effort of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and some very good coaches. Bangladesh was fortunate enough to have a series of coaches starting with Gordon Greenwich, Eddie Barlow, Trevor Chappell, Dav Whatmore, Jamie Siddons, and all the way to Chandika Haturusinghe today. All these coaches have hammered and moulded the team into a unified fighting unit that should rightly be feared by the rest of the world.
An effective team can’t only depend on batting; it must also have a lethal bowling action. Heath Streak was the man who came in at just the right time and implemented a programme that did wonders for the bowlers. The team not only had teeth now but a whole new set of claws to maul their opponents with.
Another very interesting phenomenon is that unlike the yesteryears, today, there is a stable of world class players vying for limited spots in the squad. The selectors have more options and much more talent to sift through. This has made the team more agile and flexible.
Gone are the days, when there were only one or two star players, on whom the teams’ fortune depended. Now there is a bevy of players to choose from. Most of the players have years of experience and they have been tested and tempered.
Shakib is a world class player and was the number one player for almost two and a half years. Later, he became the number one player in all three formats of the game. But it’s not only Shakib al Hasan, there is Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe bin Mortaza, Mahmudullah Riad, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain and a host of other players who have raised the bar and set a whole new benchmark for others to follow.
The future is bright and there is no lack of new and upcoming players with the desire and the hunger to win. They all want to become Tigers and they are the future. BCB have established a very good programme which is grooming the young talents. There is a very strong under 19 team and a prolific league match system in place.
A long time back Gordon Greenwich was asked, when will Bangladesh win the World Cup? He replied, it’s not when Bangladesh will win the World Cup but when they will stop losing matches consistently and given the rate of growth it would take a good 10 to 15 years.
People misunderstood what he said. What he wanted to do and implement was to instill a system at the grassroots levels whereby an inflow of talent would persist in Bangladesh cricket for years to come.  Well those 15 years are up and the moment is upon us. Everything is in place: the talent, the players, the experience, the infrastructure and we are now ready to reap what was sowed so long ago. All those years of toil, trial and tribulation are about to pay up.
The Tigers are standing on a precipice of change and we can hear the roar across the chasm. It’s only a matter of time before they leap and claim the world for its dominance.

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